Monday, September 16, 2013

A Day of Laughter, Love and Hope

I've stayed pretty close to quite a few of my undergrad pals - we went through a lot together, oh so many years ago, and since we all started using Facebook, it's been a wonderful way to reconnect and keep in touch.  When an undergrad friend posted that he'd be visiting New York last weekend, I tried to clear my calendar so I could see him and his dear partner.  When he later posted that he'd become engaged, I wondered if something was afoot...
And I was right, there WAS something afoot!  Last Thursday afternoon, I got a text asking, "Hey, do you want to come to a wedding?!"  WOULD I?!?!  How exciting!!  I haven't been to a wedding in quite awhile - in fact, I think the last wedding I attended was another undergrad pal's happy day.  Hmmmmm.  :)

At first, I was worried.  I mean, a gay wedding should be a classy affair, right?  And this was going to be my first gay wedding!  I generally don't dress up very often.  I figured my dresses for work events were a little TOO much.  Happily, my newly betrothed pals said they were going to dress down and we all should, too.  Whew!  I was happy to not feel guilty about wearing jeans and sneakers, though I did pretty myself up a little bit with a bright yellow jacket and some sparkly jewelry.  I got out of the habit of wearing jewelry after my surgery - it always bothered me for some reason.  I really need to get back into the habit.  Sparkly jewelry is always a good idea.

I looked up the courthouse website and found the address, then did a subway search so I'd know which stop to use.  It looked pretty easy, thankfully.  I tend to get confused when I'm all the way downtown.  Who knows why?  I got off the subway and was a tad early, so I stopped in a deli for a bottle of water and a bagel.  Of course, that took FOREVER!  And then of course I got confused about which courthouse was the right one.  Thankfully, there was a nice parking/traffic guard who pointed me in the right direction.
And there they were, the happy couple!  What a joyous day and what fun we had throughout the entire process.  We waited outside the courthouse for all the friends to arrive, then we got in line inside.  First, you had to check in at the front desk.  Then, you had to go back and get a number.  The first time they called the number, it was time to sign all the forms and pay the marriage fee.  Then you had to wait again for them to call the number when the chapel was available.  All told, we were probably there a couple of hours.   Of course, being tremendously fun people, we made the waiting fun.  Anytime we heard the number, we yelled "Woo hoo!"  And I was almost levitating with excitement the entire time.

I was sort of surprised there were so many people in the court house, although a lot of stuff is processed there. But still! Apparently, a clerk told my friends that it would either be really crowded because it was Friday the 13th or it would be really empty. Really crowded is how it turned out. I thought it was funny that there was a florist in the middle of the courthouse lobby, but I guess it makes sense. There was also a souvenir stand there. One stop shopping, as it were. I was surprised there wasn't a Starbucks, though. For as many people as there were, and for as long as the line got as the day went on, you'd think Starbucks would try to get in on the captive audience.

I was honored when the happy couple asked if I'd like to be one of the witnesses.  My name and signature is on their marriage certificate - forever!  That's just so awesomely movingly cool.  My handsome pal (who could be a professional photographer) got a great photo of my beaming witnessing.  I'm attaching it here.  The ceremony itself was brief, but the clerk who performed it was fantastic!  He took his time and made it all very GRAND.  I think he knew we were theater people.  I tried to be very present in the moment, along with taking photos, since it was such a lovely and important event.  I'm glad some other friends got video, though, so I can go back and smile through my tears whenever I want.

Then, suddenly, they were married!  What a rush!  There was more hugging, kissing and laughing.  We did more photo ops at the appropriately themed Wedding Garden, then we went to lunch at a very nice place, Philip Marie, in the Village.  It was terrific, with very yummy food and the wait staff and other customers were very happy for the happy couple.  I'll have to go back and try more of the tasty-looking menu.  My butternut squash soup and fried green tomatoes were very yummy.  But everything tastes good when you're so happy.  :)
It was truly a glorious day, one of the best days of my life.  I smiled for many hours.  We all had so much fun, laughing and sharing each other's joy.  I admit I cried with happiness several times.  But I also welled up at the poignancy of the day, once I started thinking about how unfair it was that this wonderful, committed couple had to wait 27 years to get married.  I know some straight people who have been married multiple times, one lovely galfriend of mine has been married four times.  And there's no judgement there - whatever makes her happy is fine with me.  But why should some people be allowed to marry over and over, when there is a whole segment of society who live and love together, but yet they can't marry, even once, everywhere?  It's so unfair.  But I forced myself to push aside the unfairness and revel in the love.  The love that surrounds these wonderful men and the lucky friends they invited to share in their love.  The love I hope to find someday.  And the hope that someday soon, the love is all that will be important, not the gender or the preference or the legality.  Because that's the way it should be - 'the greatest of these is love.'

photo credit: Nicholas Wuehrmann

photo credit: Nicholas Wuehrmann

photo credit:  Nicholas Wuehrmann

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